I recently wrote to my Oregon friends about this blog and the lack of creativity in my life. I wrote: “I’m just this desperate to write again and to do something creative again. I really just feel like a piece of myself is dying more and more each day…” I was immediately reminded of this Rilke quote from one of my favorite books, Letters to a Young Poet:
Search for the reason that bids you to write; find out whether it is spreading out its roots in the deepest places of your heart, acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write. This above all–ask yourself in the stillest hour of the night: must I write? Delve into yourself for a deep answer. And if this should be affirmative, if you may meet this earnest question with a strong and simple, ‘I must,’ then build your life according to this necessity…
I remember thinking when I read this book for class that that quote was completely over the top. Surely Rilke didn’t mean he would literally die if he couldn’t write! But in that moment of writing to my girls, I was suddenly struck with the truth in the statement. I finally felt like I understood, and thinking of it as a life-or-death situation will hopefully motivate me to keep it up.
Of course, writing, like most creative endeavors, is hard work. If it wasn’t, everyone would do it, wouldn’t they? I think it’s important work, though, both for the person writing and the person reading (or is that assuming too much?). Anyway, all I know is that I should be building my life according to this necessity. This is step one.
What is it that makes you come alive? What are you doing to facilitate it in your everyday life?